13 December 2010

PARIS: Day 3

We’re going to Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) this morning. I know, wrong season, but we’ve never been there and the sun is out and I’m betting there’s still plenty to see.

Breakfast at Angelina on Rue de Rivoli? We thought yes, but then decided non because a croissant, café, and juice is 18€… We stop, instead, at Café Rivoli Park for café crème. Dorothy, you’re not in Mougins anymore—café crème is 5€, exactly double what we paid in Provence. Hey, it’s o.k. We’re in Paris on the Rue de Rivoli looking out on the Tuileries. (Well, they’re there, you just can’t see them from here even though they are just across the street.)

We take the Metro to Odeon, stroll along Rue de l’Odeon—it’s 10:00am and the shops are just opening. Palais du Luxembourg is a lovely and imposing structure—the French Sénat meets here. We walk around the palace and through the gardens, seeking sunlight. What a difference the sun makes! We definitely will come back in an appropriate season (If I can ever get CA to give up coaching soccer, so that we can travel in May and October.).


Just down the street we can see the Panthéon, so we head in that direction. A spectacular building! Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Rousseau are buried here. Louis XV had the Panthéon built, and it was completed in 1789, and then dedicated to the heroes of the Revolution just three years later.



We’re very near the Sorbonne, and we’re curious. Again, an impressive building that doesn’t let us down. I’d love to study here. Caroline Kennedy did.

After checking our tourist map, we decide to walk across the Rue de Valugirard to Boulevard Raspail and then up a bit toward Sèvre-Bablone and the food halls of Le Bon Marché—La Grande Epicerie Paris. We checked out this upscale market in 2008, and remember their café, although we didn’t eat there last time.

I love the food halls of London and Paris, and this is exceptional. We wander the store a bit, but we’re hungry (no Angelina for petit dejeuner) so we soon make a bee-line to PicNic for lunch. It takes us a few moments to figure out the scheme—there’re no English sub-titles. The deal is that you get in line, say or point to the plat that tempts you. They put the order in, you move through the line to choose dessert and beverage—if you’re so inclined—and when you pay you get a number to set on your table so that the server can find you when your meal is ready.

Seating is limited but we spy two seats together and then are cut-off by a very quick little old lady. We squeeze in catty-corner from each other at a high table, and eventually with normal attrition we’re able to sit together.

My meal is really good—roast chicken, deboned, with a mélange of vegetables and white rice. CA is not thrilled with his beef stir-fry, but it fills him up. I enjoy the experience and the food. It’s been an efficient way to have lunch and regroup for the next part of the day.

CA wants to go into Le Bon Marché with me, and then we’ll split up for the rest of the day. I know from my previous visit that Bon Marché is high-end, so our visit is brief. CA wants to go back to the hotel, and I’m ready to dive into the BHV for a full-on spree.

I do miss the earlier incarnation of the BHV—it was a bit chaotic, but utterly charming. Last trip and now today it’s very apparent that the BHV is up-market. I have a sneaking suspicion that Galleries Lafayette owns it now. I’ll research that when I have a better Internet connection.
[UPDATE: BHV is a brand of the retail conglomerate Groupe Galeries Lafayette, which also owns Monoprix.]

Luckily, I find a sterling silver bangle bracelet—one of my goals for this trip—that CA can give me for Christmas. And, I find a suitable replacement for one of the gifts I lost in the Nice Airport on Saturday. At least I can stop looking for an exact replacement, and I’m truly happy with the new version.

It’s almost 5:00pm when I find CA in the hotel lobby in front of the fireplace. I’m determined to be ready to hit the streets again with him in 30 minutes. So, in record time I wash my hair, take 400mgs. of Ibuprofen, and try some Internet hacking. Not successfully this time.


By 6:00pm we’re on our way to see the Eiffel Tower at night, in all its lighted splendor. And, I’m betting there’s a Christmas market close by. CA has scoped it out and suggests we take the Metro to Trocadero, which works out well. As soon as we’re up out of the subway, we can see the lighted tower over the rooftops and we’re on our way. Guess what? We’re not the only people who decided to come to the Eiffel Tower tonight. Really. It’s a cold, cold crisp night and the lighted tower is spectacular. I’m awestruck.

Both CA and I are tickled to see the carousels on each side of the Seine where LG had her first ever carousel rides—one right after the other. She was dazzled, and then teary-eyed when the first ride was over. We walked across the Pont de Iéna and there was another carousel! We have great memories from that February 2007 trip to Paris with DM, MK and our sweet LG—at that time our only grandchild. Now there are 5 and a 6th to come in July.

There is a Christmas market and an ice skating rink just below Trocadéro. As soon as we enter the market, we buy some vin chaud. It is cold out here, did I mention that? This is a fun market with the same sorts of stuff we’ve seen over and over, but it’s still fun. We eventually buy a hot pepper and sausage baguette to share, and then I talk CA into finally trying the little boobie desserts we’ve seen at all the Christmas markets. I order a café flavor and he chooses the chocolate with nuts. Yum! I’d expected a marshmallow filling, but its somewhere between meringue and fluff, with a round wafer cookie at the bottom and all dipped in chocolate. Rich and sugary, but fun.

As we walk back toward Trocadéro Metro, I begin wondering about my food combinations—hot wine, sausage with spicey mustard, and then pure sugar coated with chocolate. I guess that’s what people eat at Christmas markets. Sort of reminds me of state and county fairs in the heartland.

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